On February 13-14, 2014, Community Management Committee (CMC) members and village chiefs from five communities gathered in Dioudé Diabé, a village in the northern Senegal department of Podor, to participate in financial management training and receive a Community Development Grant. Members of each of these communities – Thioubalel Lao, Dioudé Diabé, Barangol, Fondé Elimane, and Dounguel – had first gained project management and problem-solving skills while participating in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) and additional trainings on conflict resolution and problem-solving through our Peace and Security Project.

One objective of the training in Dioudé Diabé was to provide CMC members and communities with tools to implement sustainable economic solutions for their communities. Together they discussed the importance of conducting feasibility studies and using images and an example of a woman who wants to invest in an income-generating activity, Tostan supervisors helped the participants understand the stages and prerequisites for beginning an economic project.

Participants and Tostan supervisors also talked about strategies to help sustain the Community Development Grants support model and identify potential challenges and overcome them through conflict resolution.

Through the Peace and Security Project, community members had learned how to peacefully resolve conflicts, both in their families and communities. They developed improved communication and problem-solving skills so they could successfully mediate disputes.. These skills are particularly useful when managing the Community Development Grants so that if conflicts regarding the funds or project management arise, they will be able to immediately address any issues.

Following the training, each of the five dynamic CMCs received a Community Development Grant of 400,000 CFA ($838 USD) from Tostan and its partner Construye Mundo, totaling 2,000,000 CFA ($4190 USD). The CMCs decided the most effective way to use the funds, allocating them to support community-led development projects and income-generating activities. Often, CMCs will also use the grants to establish a system of microcredit for their communities.

After receiving the funds, the CMC’s mission now is to organize meetings in their communities to announce and present the Community Development Grant, share the information they learned during training, and start implementing their own programs. They will work for two years with the support of Abdoulaye Ndiaye, the Tostan Development Support Supervisor, who will visit each beneficiary village every month to help them achieve their goals of economic development.